Words by Kavina.
A musician's work isn’t done until their music has been accepted to join the ranks of streaming playlists both Spotify-big and indie-small. Streaming culture has given way to a highly personalised listening experience for subscribers and music fans, and music curators are in control of what is hot enough to be heard. By utilising playlists as a gateway, editor-curated playlists deliver new music from thousands of artists to listeners who may never otherwise have stumbled across it. Getting your music playlisted is an essential step in cementing your artist-cred by propelling your music onto listener radars across the globe, while also providing the perfect landing for your work to be featured amongst its peers.
While the weight of playlist curation may not have sunk in yet because of the decimal starting payback an artist gets from streaming giants, it’s an underutilised method of promoting music that actually comes with an instruction manual for once. Both a welcome and refreshing change in the big risk/waiting game for success that drives our music industry. If you understand the data algorithms and get to know the sweet spot that your tracks could fit into amidst thousands of playlists out there, then the building blocks begin to stack quite nicely, as playlisters on the search for new music start to notice you along the way.
Yes, there is a process to it, but it is one we’re pretty confident about. Stick with us and we’ll talk you through it.
Being playlisted is about discovery, and we all know what happens after that
Financial freedom may not be the number one reason for releasing your music on Spotify or Apple Music, with each play being worth $0.0005 of a dollar, but the potential for direct exposure from getting your music directly into the ears of millions of streaming subscribers is untapped. Unlike social media, which is about the promotion and marketing of your artist personality, getting one of your tracks onto a top playlist could boost your listener count by thousands, or millions, giving you undeniable resume stats of proven listeners enjoying your music.
There’s no better indicator of song performance than the stats held from your Spotify account, which will certainly be the numbers that labels, playlist curators, and music media will be impressed by when it comes to ascertaining the next big thing! Check out Tones & I’s stats which boast 2 billion streams last year and consider the filter-down or filter-up effect that a successful track could have from other curators picking up your track after it breaks through on a renowned playlist. In the same regard, playlist exposure often leads to commercial radio play once tracks hit the radar of Radio Stations that religiously subscribe to these new-release trendsetters.
Playlists have replaced the album listening-model
Album sales have been replaced by streaming memberships, which have made a direct impact on the listening model by which subscribers consume music. Listening trends report that playlists have overtaken individual album-listening preferences, and streaming giants have paved the way by holding the monopoly on the playlist culture they have created.
With subscriptions, music fans can personalise their entire listening experience by favoriting tracks, unlocking premier subscription benefits such as new release radars and weekly curated playlists based on their listening preferences, as well as music search to suit whole moods and daily activities like Power Workout, Feel Good Friday or Sadboi Vibes (we forgot about sadbois). It’s a rarity to buy a whole album when there are 75000 new songs available weekly via curated playlists which can be easily saved for later and cut down the time it takes for everyday music listeners to discover new music.
First thing’s first, you need a Spotify for Artist Profile
Jump onto your favourite music distributor sites like Distrokid or CDBaby and upload your music to Spotify via the Spotify for Artist page. Once your music upload request has been processed, you can then confidently log on to your Spotify account and claim your artist profile within a few days. That’s right, from now until forever, you won’t need a certain amount of artist follows to be the verified artist you deserve to be known as, so go get your blue tick fam!
Now that you’ve claimed your profile, the fun really begins
Give your Spotify artist profile the same amount of love as you put into your Instagram account because you never know which playlist editors are checking it out. Use your Spotify for Artist page to add promo pics, your own playlists, and update your bio. By gaining the coveted artist verification status, received from claiming your page, you'll also unlock access to music analytics and promo tools. Most crucially, once the music is uploaded to Spotify via your Spotify For Artist page, you can then pitch your unreleased music to Spotify playlists, as well as receive notifications each time your new music is added to one.
So how does it all work?
The Fresh Finds program on Spotify recently expanded to include its Australia/New Zealand playlist for showcasing up-and-coming local talent and indie label releases. With an over 108% median growth rate for artists in their first month's showcase, 44% of first-time artists go on to be picked for other editorial playlists as a result of their feature. The editorial playlist itself is curated with the use of data algorithms as well as an editorial team who review the 1000 tracks returned from music blog sites and ‘trendsetter listening’ data, and add those from external distributor submissions which best fit the ‘Fresh Finds’ sound, then BOOM you have a playlist.
Now it’s your turn to give it a go
If you want to hack the system then we recommend starting from the bottom and climbing the rungs of playlister success one step at a time. Create playlists on your artist page and collaborate with your local music gang to fatten it up, then with your powers combined, get to promoting it on your socials to friends and music fam. Starting a playlist yourself will help you understand the way they are pieced together, how genres and new music releases intertwine, and with enough traction could land you on the ‘listener trendsetter’ radar of Spotify editors themselves. Hook, line, sinker.
*If you need any inspo, check out Flight Facilities - All Flights Grounded playlist, which has racked up over 11k of listeners who’ve been tuning in to the duo's favourite tracks and staying entertained while we anticipate our next overseas escape.
Next, contact independent playlist curators
Networking isn’t just for collabs and gigs anymore, so don't be shy to bust out google search and find out how to submit music to playlist curators directly. Of course, best practise would be to build relationships with indie music bloggers and individual playlisters by following and sharing their accounts, building goodwill, and getting noted for being a true fan. When you approach independent playlisters directly, try a casual approach instead of pitching your own music first off, by pitching tracks from a few other artists to help build some rapport. Smaller playlisters will no doubt appreciate the hot music tips because they are always on the lookout themselves, and will be keen to check out what you’ve got going on in return. It’s an I help you type of vibe.
Then hit the big boys and girls of Spotify Playlists via your Spotify For Artists Page
Alright, so you’ve laid down the groundwork, established yourself as a participant and supporter of the playlister community and now you’re almost #veterenstatus. Head to that Spotify For Artists page that we spoke about earlier as you prepare to hit the big leagues and pitch to the million-listener club. Tuma Basa, what’s good?
Pitching for a Spotify playlist involves a bit of finesse in the execution of your choices because the potential for your track being chosen comes back to the algorithms digging your stats, and playlist editors vibing out in agreement that your track fits the bill for what the playlist represents.
First of all, each release entitles you to pitch one song for playlisting and must be done at least 7 days before the release date of your track or album. Unlike picking a song that best represents your album, ensure the track to be playlisted fits as snuggly into the playlist of choice just as a track from the NOW MUSIC dance compilations did from the early 2000s(you won't believe it's not one song!). Artists nowadays even go so far as to write tracks specifically for playlists, which isn’t just a culture reserved for TikTok or EDM remixes. Consider composition, tone, vocals, and comparative artist profiles of those who are featured, if you think you’ve found your squad then you have our blessings!
Now, to sum up, the ‘getting playlisted’ journey
Now rinse and repeat on a monthly basis, or whenever the perfect playlist-worthy track hits the light of day and you’ve got yourself a formula for reaching millions of listeners directly in their AirPods and upping your monthly listener count by surprising figures. If your Spotify profile is on point, you’ll be bridging the new-listeners to new-fans crossover in no time, so like anyone who does well, it pays to become an expert, because you’ll gain what you put in at the end of the day.
We can’t wait to see where you end up!!
We've also curated our Meet The Musos Spotify playlist, listen here.